After the election turmoil remains high for West Valley Water

After the dust settled after the most recent West Valley Water Board elections the turmoil has yet to settle. Many were surprised to see the current board that was left virtually in tact except for the election of new comer Channing Hawkins and that this board relinquished the seat of President to the newly elected Board Member Hawkins. So have said that this seems to be a trap to set Board Member Hawkins up to fail. We have reached out multiple times to speak with Board President Hawkins about this but have failed to speak to him.

West Valley Water District board member Channing Hawkins reaches after being voted in as President of the West Valley Water District, during a board meeting in Rialto, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. (Photo by John Valenzuela, Contributing Photographer)

Whatever the case Board Member Hawkins is the dully chosen Board President and seems to be on a course to make changes within the structure of the Water District. The most notable change is the live streaming of board meetings via Facebook Live and then posting a video recording to the Water Districts newly created YouTube channel. The recent implementation of these two sources have removed a large barrier between the Water Board and the Rate Payers as many people work long hours and have family obligations that make it difficult to show up to regular meetings let alone all the special meeting West Valley has had lately. Now rate payers can remain informed on what is going on without having to disrupt their already busy lives.

About the time that Board President Hawkins took the position of Board President many of the Water District Managers took that opportunity to deliver a letter of no confidence in West Valley Water GM Clarence Mansfield. The letter from the West Valley Managers demanded that he be fired because of poor leadership and alleged cronyism. This letter was put out suspiciously close to a SCNG investigation into a laundry list of problems since Mansfield was hired, they also pointed out his salary of $225k dollars as well.

As someone that has been covering this Water District long before the Southern California News Group. There have been problems for 6 to 8 years with West Valley Water Board where former Board President but still a current Board Member has been running the Water District into the ground and has been using questionable hiring practices since he sat on the Water Board. Another thing is I know Mr Mansfield and I haven’t spoken to him recently I can tell you he has learned the hard way to try and get his job done without running directly afoul of the elected people over him. He was railroaded at LA DWP years ago when questioned certain internal practices, then was made the scapegoat for the laundry list of failures in the sale of the City of Rialto’s Water and Waste Water to Veollia where he was the first GM to tackle that project. Now he is the GM for a Water District that was upside down in questionable behavior for years before he got there.

Board President Hawkins seems genuine in his interest to be transparent holding Facebook Lives to go over the agenda with constituents prior to meetings and there doesn’t appear to be any visible bias in the decisions he has led the district to make. Quite the opposite the oldest and most long standing Board Members have openly attacked Board President Hawkins for some of the preliminary moves he has taken.

Only time will tell what these changes will bring about and what if anything will change with the General Manager job for this struggling water agency.

Click here to read about Martin Piñon as Interim Human Resources and Risk Manager

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West Valley Water District Looks To Yet Another Consultant To Solve Internal Problems

On February 4th 2020 West Valley Water put out a press release on the hiring of yet another upper level manager and consultant to fix the laundry list of problems West Valley Water District has faced. The newest person that has claimed they will do what nobody else has been able to do is Martin Piñon who will be acting as the Interim Human Resources and Risk Manager. According to the press release, In addition to implementing best practices and standards for human resources, Piñon will manage the District’s personnel activities including salary and benefits administration, workers’ compensation, risk management, safety, training, employee relations, recruitment and selection. Pinion will also ensure that the District is in compliance with employment laws and work with management to correct employee deficiencies, apply disciplinary actions, address grievances and follow-up with complaints and inquiries.

Among his long list of experience and education the notable piece is that he has a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University San Bernardino. Now your asking yourself why is that the portion of Mr. Piñon you focus on? Well for years Board Member Clifford Young a fixture at Cal State San Bernardino appeared to be using his influence over the hiring process to gift high level positions to people he favored from said college.

Piñon said about his appointment “It’s not rocket science,” said Piñon. “We’re going to turn it all around.”

Board President Hawkins said that Piñon’s hiring was directly tied to his appointment as board president and the district’s “renewed, collective commitment to ratepayers.

All matters regarding employment have been taken off GM Clarence Mansfield’s plate and the recommendations from Piñon will fall to the 2 member committie of President Hawkins and Vice President Crowther. The hiring of additional staff isn’t over as Mr. Piñon has already stated that Legal Counsel and an additional HR firm will need to be hired to fix what is broken. Another very expense and time consuming item on Mr. Piñon’s agenda is a comp and class study to look at pay and wages.

Now we don’t know Mr Piñon and we hope he can accomplish everything he said he can, but knowing the track record of West Valley water over the last 8-10 years this just looks like more of the same and more wasted money being spent!

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